The best beer garden in Nottinghamshire where everyone's friendly and they are good with pets

Landlady Ella Wolfenden pictured in the beer garden at The Lion in Mosley Street, Basford
-Credit: (Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

It doesn't have panoramic views of rolling countryside like some of Nottinghamshire's best rural pubs. In fact, if you're sitting in the beer garden at The Lion in Basford you're probably looking at a tram rumbling past or Basford Garage next door.

But it's the atmosphere, outstanding beer and warm welcome that counts with drinkers who have voted the beer garden the best in the county in a Nottinghamshire Live poll. It was the runaway winner in a shortlist featuring the Star Inn in Beeston, the Bodega in Nottingham city centre, King William IV aka the King Billy in Sneinton and the Queen's Head in Watnall.

The garden has a capacity of 250 - more than double that of the Mosley Street pub that stands in the shadow of the former Shipstone's Brewery. What was previously a grassy bank, sloping every which way, was given a major overhaul during the pandemic to create an attractive outdoor space, with decking and shelter, for customers.

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Owners Pub People have invested a further £50,000 to upgrade and enhance the decking, festoon lighting and furniture. Landlady Ella Wolfenden said: "It works really well throughout the year. It's always busy. We get people booking it out for functions. It's been a hit with families. Last year when it was 40°C, they were really happy with it because it meant they'd got a nice covered area but they were still outside."

This year tiled platforms have been put in to level the tables on the grassy slope. "Even though our garden's great, one of the downsides is it's on a bit of a hill. We wanted to keep as much grass as we could but have it where it was much more user-friendly. I think we've done that. It's turned out really nice. We have added another decking that's fully accessible with a ramp up onto it," said Ella.

The Lion pub's beer garden in Basford
The Lion pub's beer garden in Basford -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

It's hardly been the weather for sitting in a beer garden but regulars are a hardy bunch who don't mind wrapping up warm to enjoy an alfresco drink. With the undercover area having heaters and sides which can be dropped down when it's cold and raining, it can be surprisingly cosy.

"It's been used more than I suspected it would because of the weather so far but we have umbrellas and the British will sit out in all weathers. We had an 80th birthday party out there at the start of March, it was pretty cold then and they were all fine, they loved it. And we had another one in January."

When the skies are blue, the garden becomes a glorious suntrap for most of the day. "I love it, our customers love it. But it came as a surprise to win as there are a lot of really good beer gardens out there. We try and make it as good as we can."

The pub is well-known for its live music - gigs this weekend are Dirty Ruby and Irish Folk - and Ella hopes to make the most of the garden by introducing some acoustic acts on the decking and vinyl DJs for a chilled Sunday session but only during the day or early evening so as not to upset nearby residents with late-night noise.

Having won Dog Friendly Magazine's award for the most dog-friendly pub three years on the trot, four-legged visitors also appreciate the outdoor space especially when their owners buy them a tub of doggy ice cream.

Humans, meanwhile, can tuck into burgers, tapas, wraps and Sunday roasts although around 80 per cent of customers are there to drink. With an entry in this year's Good Beer Guide for its ten real ales and seven craft beers, it's the Bass on draught that's a particular draw.

"The permanent line is Bass and the rest are all rotating so we've constantly got new beers on every couple of days. We have people come from Gedling because they like our Bass. They say they can't get a good Bass anywhere else so they come over here," said Ella.

The oldest part of The Lion pub dates back to the late 1800s
The oldest part of The Lion pub dates back to the late 1800s -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

Once a Home Ales pub, the front part of The Lion dates back to the late 1800s. A sympathetic extension was added in the 1990s and it includes an unusual feature - a well near the bar where barrels are lowered down into the cellar.

As soon as the sun pops out, as it did when Nottinghamshire Live visited the pub, earlier this week, the regulars make a beeline for the garden. Retired Colin Demera, 70, who lives just a five-minute walk from the pub said: "It's beautiful. It's the best pub in the area. Comfortable, welcoming, good beer, good food. You just need a bit of sunshine. Out here in summer you just can't beat it. It's a combination of everything."

Paddy Hutchinson, 38, of Basford, said: "It's just a beautiful garden, everyone's friendly, good beer and they are good with pets. It's a really nice chilled-out garden, you don't get many of them around here. I'd encourage families to come here in the summer - it's brilliant."